When it comes to offshore software development outsourcing, companies need to ensure their software outsourcing partner has a robust automated testing program.
It’s vital for all team members, whether outsourced or in-house, to be on the same page and share the same understanding of how testing is meant to impact and improve the product’s overall quality. Like in many software outsourcing projects, the success of automated testing endeavors does not necessarily lie with the number of tests run, but the quality they can help ensure.
The Challenges of Automated Testing in Offshore Software Development Projects
Automated testing has been hailed as the great time-saver for contemporary software development projects. However, while automated testing does allow development teams to conduct a greater number of tests in less time, its effectiveness usually boils down to the value of the information it yields. Which is to say, an automated test that’s testing something that doesn’t contribute to an app’s business value may just be wasted effort.
It’s also important to understand that while manual testing is far more time consuming, automated testing doesn’t necessarily mean instant results; often automated testers spend large amounts of time coding their tests and making improvements or changes as requirements vary. This means automated testers can focus on larger and more important issues, like determining how their tests contribute to a product’s quality and business value.
The Secret to An Effective Testing Strategy: Start with Why
While teams can find themselves running any number of tests, they may not be deriving valuable information that impacts their product’s quality of value. This is a roadblock companies can face if they don’t take care to fully understand the purpose of their testing strategy. Rather than take the time to articulate their purpose in implementing automated testing, teams can jump at the opportunity to automate and end up choosing the fastest solution, which may later result in growing technical debt.
Rather than opt for a cavalier approach, teams need to start out by identifying which metrics will allow them to determine a product’s business value. This requires them to have a deep understanding of the user’s experience, their behavior, and what they will find most useful in the product, which in turn will help inform test results and identify business-critical test cases.
Set quality goals
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It’s possible for an application to function well, but not necessarily deliver significant business value. This is why it’s important for teams to determine beforehand what metrics will indicate that a product is of high quality. To do so, they may have to ask themselves what would result in losses for the company; both in terms of business and money. Once a team identifies these, they can set goals to improve their product’s performance in these areas that might cause their company to lose either money or business.
Define what you need to test
Once these goals or areas are identified, teams will need to examine what, exactly, needs to be tested and how. Aside from testing for the metrics that will help identify how the app provides business value, it’s important to consider what environments tests should be run in or how best to replicate a user’s behavior, what issues may be falling through the cracks, what kind of problems does customer support run into constantly. These will all provide some insight into the types of tests that need to be included.
Evaluate your current testing strategy
With a better understanding of the risks and what types of tests need to be run to ensure value, the next step is for teams to take a good, hard look at what they’re already doing, what they should keep and what needs to be discarded or improved upon. This includes analyzing how the team’s current tests are written and whether they cover everything they need to cover, how the team is leveraging their automated testing tools, what skills the testing team has and whether they need to expand them, and what kind of support issues are constantly popping up.
Establish what tests you’ll run and how
With the aforementioned information, teams can move forward and determine the scope and the approach they’ll use for their tests. Teams should also, at this point, decide which tests should be run manually and which should be automated. It’s vital to understand that automating all tests isn’t viable, and tests that will not be run more than four or five times are better executed manually.
Loop in team members that offer unique insight
For effective testing processes, it’s important for the team to work together. Meaning, bringing in your Business Analyst or Product Owner is vital to understanding what functions are most influential in generating an effective user experience, and which areas will need more attention to achieve business goals. While a test lead or SDET can lead the charge in designing and executing a testing strategy, the insight he or she can gain from bringing in a Business Analyst or Product Owner can make the difference in ensuring the product’s quality.
The Value of a Comprehensive Automated Testing Strategy
The benefits of automated testing are well-known. Aside from enabling fast feedback loops that help development teams catch potential issues early, automated tests’ reusability makes it easier for testers to improve and adjust on past tests, expanding their reach to other cases or situations. This, in turn, can lead to faster time-to-market for software development teams. However, when a strategy is well designed from the get-go, there are additional benefits for companies that implement automated testing.
For one, teams and companies can have full confidence in product quality. Which is to say, not only can they be certain that an app functions well, but that it delivers the kind of quality experience that delights users, expands the business and results in significant ROI for an application. Additionally, teams can have a clear understanding of what constitutes value and can, then, measure efficiency by speed, time saved developing their tests, and, of course, the defect backlog.
Ultimately, automated testing allows software development teams to increase efficiency by automating the things they know and gives them space to manually explore those they don’t. But to do so efficiently, teams need to first analyze and identify risks in order to determine the kinds of tests they need to run. Automatization is an essential part of reducing risk when it comes to changes in the product, but manual testing will always be relevant; what really allows teams to be successful is a constant effort to detect risks and find ways to mitigate them.
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